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Genetics. 2006 Jun;173(2):919-33. Epub 2006 Apr 2.

Contrasting patterns of introgression at X-linked loci across the hybrid zone between subspecies of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

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  • 1CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Vairão, Spain. geraldes@email.arizona.edu


Hybrid zones provide an excellent opportunity for studying the consequences of genetic changes between closely related taxa. Here we investigate patterns of genetic variability and gene flow at four X-linked loci within and between the two subspecies of European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus cuniculus and O. c. algirus). Two of these genes are located near the centromere and two are located near the telomeres. We observed a deep split in the genealogy of each gene with the root located along the deepest branch in each case, consistent with the evolution of these subspecies in allopatry. The two centromeric loci showed low levels of variability, high levels of linkage disequilibrium, and little introgression between subspecies. In contrast, the two telomeric loci showed high levels of variability, low levels of linkage disequilibrium, and considerable introgression between subspecies. These data are consistent with suppression of recombination near the centromere of the rabbit X chromosome. These observations support a view of speciation where genomic incompatibilities at different loci in the genome create localized differences in levels of gene flow between nascent species.

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